Swimming in polka dots: Foxes honor Downey with new swim caps

December 2017 Posted in Community, Sports

James DayThe Silverton High swim team opened its home season in style Dec. 5, donning new headgear at a meet dedicated to the memory of long-time Silverton-area swim coach and booster Dennis Downey.

“Really this man was the reason why Silverton High had a swim team,” Foxes coach Lucky Rogers told a standing-room-only crowd at the Silverton Community Pool. “I’m so thankful that so many alumni and others came for this.”

Dozens of family and friends of Downey were on hand applauding. The former contractor passed away in September at the age of 71.

Rogers also announced that beginning this season the Dennis Downey Award will be presented to a hard-working senior.

“It won’t go to the fastest swimmer or the best swimmer,” Rogers said. “It’s a blue-collar award for the kid with the biggest heart.”

Then, Rogers unveiled a surprise that he had kept from the team, new swim caps that were created to mimic the red welder’s cap with white polka dots that Downey used to wear when on the job.

The Foxes donned their new caps, then dived in for a meet against Putnam of Milwaukie. The Foxes’ girls squad won 123-46, while the boys triumphed

Marie Tolmachoff won the
200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke while also swimming on two winning relay squads. Ditto for newcomer Bre Castell (the 500 and 100 free and two relay wins). Samantha Zurcher won the 100 backstroke and swam on two relays and Maggie Kelley won the 200 free and swam on two relays.

For the boys Jason Orr scored two individual wins (100 and 200 free) and two winning relay legs, while Kyle Reiser (100 breaststroke and two relays) and Jack Nealon (100 fly and two relays) also made strong contributions.

But with this squad, as with those of his first two years as head coach, Rogers is going to win with his depth. He has 90 swimmers fighting for space in the pool. A total of 17 Foxes participated in the junior varsity girls 50 backstroke, with Silverton swimmers taking the top
11 spots.

“It looks like a fish farm,” Rogers said. “You throw some food in… that’s kind of what our practices are like. Which probably means I’m not mean enough.”

Rogers thinks his boys squad could challenge Lebanon for the Mid-Willamette Conference title, with the girls in the hunt for second.

Rogers noted that expectations have gotten higher. The girls and boys took third at districts in 2015 and both rose to second place a year ago, with five relay squads plus Orr and Tolmachoff as individuals competing at state.

“We used to just go out and have fun,” Rogers said. “But I’m happy with our progress. We just want to keep going in a forward direction.”

With polka dots on their caps.

Boys basketball: The Foxes are under new management, with Jamie McCarty replacing Steve Roth as head coach. But Roth, who bleeds basketballs, didn’t go anywhere. He remains on staff in charge of the JV2 program.

McCarty, who coached the Stayton High boys to the 2007 Class 4A finals, took some time off from coaching because he had young kids at home and he had moved into school administration.

“I couldn’t be more blessed,” McCarty told Our Town. “I missed the high school part of education.”

The Foxes were a young squad a year ago, with Elijah Nielsen the lone senior on the roster. By the end of the season the growing pains were gone and Silverton finished strong, downing Crescent Valley and Corvallis, who finished 1-2 in the MWC, demolishing Marist Catholic in a Class 5A play-in game and severely testing eventual state runner-up Churchill in the round of 16.

“There is definitely a feeling of having some unfinished business to take care of,” McCarty said. “This year we are led by six seniors, and it feels real good to have that leadership.”

It’s real balanced squad as well, McCarty said. “Every guy has a role. We have guys who can score, guys who can rebound and guys who can pass. But they are all go-to defenders. We all play defense.”

Defense was the hallmark of McCarty’s tough Stayton teams, and the Foxes have started fast in that department, coming up with 24 deflections in their opener, an 80-49 win Dec. 5 against Class 6A Canby and limiting Aloha, another Class 6A squad, to just 12 points in the first half of a 73-44 victory on Dec. 8.

Senior guard Cade Roth poured in 23 points in the Aloha game, including five 3-pointers. Power forward Levi Nielsen added 14 and guards Easton Ashwell and David Gonzales contributed 12 and 10, respectively. McCarty also has long, lean Clay Martinson and Josiah Roth to run the floor and threaten the passing lanes, long-range shooter Drake Ulven and 220-pound Tashaun Treat for muscle down low.

In addition, injured returning veterans Spencer Clements (shoulder) and Kobe Garcia (foot) should be ready to go soon.

McCarty also has a deep coaching bench. Steve Roth led the Foxes to the 2015 Class 5A boys title. Assistant Nick McWilliams, a long-time Silverton teacher, coached the South Salem girls to back-to-back 6A titles in 2015 and 2016. And former Silverton standouts Brent Satern and Carter Gould are on hand as well.

The pieces seem to be in place for the Foxes.

Kennedy Classic: The Trojans came within two points of sweeping their own basketball tournament last weekend. The Kennedy girls, ranked No. 1 by the OSAA in Class 2A, downed Monroe 49-40 and Molalla 44-41 to win the girls bracket. The Trojans’ boys squad, ranked 10th, took out Monroe 70-57 but fell 60-59 to Molalla in the title game. Both Kennedy squads open Tri-River Conference play Dec. 19 against St. Paul.

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